HC rejects plea of ex-IAF pilot seeking disability pension along with arrears

The Delhi High Court has rejected the plea of a former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, who was invalidated out of service in 1981 following a motorcycle accident that rendered him permanently unfit to fly aircraft, seeking grant of disability pension along with arrears.

A Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla rejected the petition filed by Ex-Flight Lieutenant Sanjiv Dewan, noting that he has decided to bring up the issue only in 2016, that is, after delay of more than 35 years.

The High Court said that the finding of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the accident, held way back in 1977, found the injury suffered by Mr. Dewan to be not attributable or aggravated by service. He was invalidated out of service in 1981 and disability pension was denied to him in 1981.

Even prior to the rejection of the claim for disability pension, the Invaliding Medical Board (IMB) had opined that the disability suffered by Mr. Dewan was ‘neither attributable to nor aggravated’ by the Air Force Service, the High Court said.

Motorcycle accident

Mr. Dewan, had in his plea, stated that after successfully completing pre-commission training, he was granted commission in the IAF in the rank of Pilot Officer. After about five years and eight months of service in Air Force, on September 22, 1977, while on duty with the 15th Squadron in Bagdogra, Mr. Dewan, while riding to an official briefing on a motorcycle driven by his colleague met with a serious accident and suffered severe head injuries, resulting in his hospitalisation.

Despite sustained treatment of about three years, Mr. Dewan could not recover completely and kept reporting of frontal headache. He was finally declared unfit for air crew duties in 1980 and was advised to opt for change of branch from flying to a non-flying branch. However, as Mr. Dewan had refused to opt for change of his branch, he was invalided out of service in 1981.

Over three and half decades later in 2016, Mr. Dewan moved the Armed Forces Tribunal against the order of the Air Force denying him disability pension.

The tribunal, in its last year’s verdict, rejected Mr. Dewan’s plea noting that the primary evidence related to the circumstances of his injury in a motorcycle accident as available in CoI have already been destroyed. “Hence the mere contention of the applicant [Mr. Dewan] is not conclusive to record a finding that his disability was either attributable to or aggravated by military service,” the tribunal held.

Mr. Dewan had challenged the tribunal’s decision before the High Court. However, the High Court concurred with the findings of the tribunal and said, “We see no reason to disagree with the above findings of the AFT”.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 4:45:02 AM |

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